Mailbag: Make your draft pitches
March, 23, 2010
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com
Q: What's the likelihood of Kyle McCarthy as a late rounder for the Bears? He and Manti Te'o seemed to be the only bright spots for the Notre Dame defense. Kyle seemed to be everywhere he needed to be to make a play when the Irish needed it, and from what I have been reading, McCarthy's name doesn't seem to be coming up anywhere. --Tom
John Albright / Icon SMINotre Dame's Kyle McCarthy had 101 tackles and five interceptions in 2009.
A:I should have mentioned McCarthy as a possible Bears candidate on Monday when I wrote a short preview about Notre Dame's pro day, but didn't because he is projected by most analysts to go late. McCarthy's draft stock isn't very high mainly because he doesn't have elite speed, but sometimes we read too much into those numbers. Unlike other college programs, most of us have the luxury of watching Notre Dame play every week, and McCarthy always stood out as somebody with excellent instincts and a knack for being around the football -- 101 tackles and five interceptions in 2009. I wouldn't wait until the later rounds to take a safety this year, but there's nothing to say the Bears can't double dip at that position. If the Bears select a safety in the third or fourth round, then I would be on board with the idea of drafting a player like McCarthy late.
Q: I understand the value-based premise of drafting the best player available, but considering the main needs of the Bears remain the defensive backfield and offensive line as we head into the draft, IF AVAILABLE, who would the Bears be more likely to draft: a bigger cornerback [which Lovie prefers] who can easily project as a free safety like Donovan Warren of Michigan or Akwasi Owusu Ansah of Indiana (Pa.) or a mauler offensive guard like Zane Beadles of Utah or Mike Johnson, who was a three-year starter and team captain for Nick Saban at Alabama, to allow the Bears more flexibility and depth? -- Al, Montgomery, Ala.
A: As we know the Bears could use help at guard and safety, and you mention some interesting potential choices. Warren actually has a cool connection to the Bears -- his godfather is former Chicago safety Mark Carrier -- but the reason he could slide to safety isn't due this size; it's his speed. He ran very poorly during workouts according to various reports, so I'm not sure if Smith finds that appealing. I'd be lying if I told you I've seen Ansah play at tiny Indiana (Pa.), but scouts like his size, speed and return ability, even though he has been hampered because of a shoulder injury. There's always a concern when a guy comes from a small school, but that didn't stop the Bears from drafting Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox out of Abilene Christian.
Since Johnson is rated by most as the third best guard in the draft, he would be awfully tough to pass up in the third round. Jerry Angelo and Nick Saban have been friends for many years, so Angelo no doubt has plenty of information on the 6-foot-5 offensive lineman, who also started several games at tackle during his college career. Beadles actually started off at Utah as a guard, but finished up at tackle, and is ranked just behind Johnson in most publications. A four-year starter for the Utes, Beadles has the reputation of being very intelligent, athletic, and a leader in the locker room.
Taking that all into consideration, if both Johnson and Beadles were available in the third round, I'd probably go with Johnson, but not by much.
Q: Given the lack of moves made by Bears in free agency to pick up a quality free safety, do you think the upgrade at corner by adding Tim Jennings and releasing Nathan Vasher is an indication that Bears may move Charles Tillman to safety? -- John, Chicago
A:Here's the age-old dilemma when it comes to moving Tillman to safety; are the Bears in effect weakening two positions? We've all seen Tillman play enough over the years to come to the conclusion the veteran could indeed make the switch and still perform at a high level. The problem comes with replacing Tillman at cornerback. I don't have an issue with adding Jennings, but he's small, and Smith covets bigger cornerbacks [like Tillman and Zack Bowman]. The only guy currently on the roster I would feel comfortable plugging into the starting lineup at cornerback opposite Bowman is Corey Graham. But here's the problem: even though Graham is held in high regard for his special teams ability, the coaching staff didn't view him as a consistent contributor on defense last season. The only reason for this slight must be Graham's speed, but I think the guy can play, and he showed a lot of promise starting nine games in 2008. But I don't fill out the depth chart, and until the Bears feel they have a steady replacement for Tillman at cornerback, he'll probably stay put.
Q: Do you think Mark Anderson would do better in a 3-4 defense as opposed to being a situational pass rusher in a 4-3? --Joe, Fort Bragg, N.C.
A:Defensive ends in a 3-4 defense traditionally play a different technique than those in a 4-3, and I don't think Anderson would be better off lining up over a tackle as opposed to lining up outside or over a tight end like he's asked to do in the Bears' defense. So I think playing end in a 3-4 is out the window. Maybe he could play one of those rush linebacker spots, but moving from a down lineman to linebacker isn't the easiest thing in the world. I wouldn't say it's impossible, but right now Anderson's best bet for success in the immediate future is as a situational pass rusher.
Q: Why is Jerry Angelo so in-love with his draft picks even when it's proven guys like Craig Steltz, Garrett Wolfe, Juaquin Iglesias and D.J. Moore aren't any good? It's that kind of stubbornness that drives us Bears fans crazy! -- Cody, Palatine
A:There's nothing wrong with believing in your draft picks. The issue arises when retaining former draft choices end up hurting the team, but I'm not sure keeping guys like Steltz and Wolfe around has been a huge detriment to the organization. On the other hand, drafting players in the early rounds who never panned out in Chicago such as Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, Dusty Dvoracek, Dan Bazuin and Michael Okwo hurt the organization. The Bears invested decent money in Iglesias and Moore, so I don't blame Angelo for giving them more time to develop. I'm not trying to sound like Jerry's unauthorized biographer, but I believe the idea of nurturing draft picks dates back to his time spent working with Tim Ruskell in Tampa Bay. Back then they believed in giving a draft pick every opportunity to succeed, and that philosophy still holds true today at Halas Hall. There have been some exceptions when a guy showed early-on he absolutely could not play -- Okwo, Marcus Freeman, etc -- but draft status is still important to the Bears organization.